Four years ago, the New York Times ran a blog post comparing the effects of e-readers on the environment. Even though it’s been a number of years since the post came out, the jury is still out on whether e-books, print books, or a mix of the two is better for the environment.
Both the publishing and the gadget industries are big polluters. Paper production, printing, and shipping print books all have a heavy carbon footprint. On the other hand, many device manufacturers don’t even release information about the hazardous materials they use to build their gadgets, and require large data centers to store e-books and user data. The question becomes even more complicated when you take into account people’s different reading habits, books that are pulped because of typos, and the insulation that bookcases against your wall can provide, reducing your power consumption.
But whether print books or e-books have a lower carbon footprint, the Times pointed out that the greenest choice (for both the planet and your wallet) is getting your books from your local library.